As we move towards a new version of normal, living with the Covid 19 Pandemic, the summer months are upon us in the UK, and are tempting us out for longer rides.
When temperatures creep over 20 degrees C, we get all giddy. While many moan it’s too hot, cyclists are thinking long rides and tan lines.
Here are a few tips for those long summer rides.
Go Early (or late)
Many regular road rides in Australia, start well before 6AM in summer. One of the main reasons for the early starts, is to avoid the worst of the heat. Starting early in the UK summer you get lower temperatures and the added bonus of quiet roads and all day to enjoy that ‘I’ve had my ride’ tired feeling. If you can’t get out early, going late is the next best option. Peak summer light evenings allow for four-hour rides even getting out at 6PM!
Plan Your Route
Long rides are harder with a lot of climbing. Keep it flatter if you are just trying for a longer distance ride. Have a ‘bailout option’ in case something unforeseen happens. Can you refill water bottles on the way around your route? If the sun is particularly strong, plan into your route some shady lanes to avoid the peak of the sun’s mid-day strength.
Avoid Chip Seal
Cash-strapped local councils do their cheapest, quickest, short-term surface dressing at this time of year. First they spray the road with hot tar, before slinging tons of chippings of the top. The excess chippings gradually get pushed to the sides of the road – the bits we are often forced to ride on. If you have to ride a tar chipped road, slow down on descents and corners and prepare to get gravel blasted when traffic passes by…
Sweat proof sunscreen or covering up, is the best way to keep protected under the summer sun. Remember to re-apply regularly though to ensure that you avoid getting burnt. Alternatively cover up! It may seem counter-intuitive, but wearing more, to shade the skin, can lower body temperature and reduce the chance of burning. Lighter coloured clothing also reflects more heat rather than absorbing it.
Steady as you Go
Take it easy, go steady and enjoy your ride for longer – bask in summer’s glow and marvel at how even those places, which normally look really quite grim, look actually half way decent in the warm summer light.
Take a Mate
Check the latest rules around the Covid 19 lock down. Riding with a mate has been on-hold for the last few weeks, unless you live with them. This could well change in the next few weeks.
However, when you can ride with a mate or in a group, aside from the whitty banter, you can look forward to having plenty of shelter if the wind picks up or you start to get tired.
Drink n Ride
Keep hydrated, regularly drinking will keep you topped up and tapping away for the long haul, refill whenever you can. Before heading out, check your urine is at the clearer end of the dehydration spectrum – heading out dehydrated never ends well. Post ride, fight the temptation to sit out with a beer. Dehydration + alcohol can really mess you up.
Take a Break
For longer rides, work at least one cafe stop into your plans. With the current restrictions, this could mean a quick espresso takeaway to pep you up. Think about eating through the ride. Keep an emergency spare gel or bar just in case your food intake is not enough to get you home.
Early starts can still be a bit chilly in summer. Cover up with arm warmers / leg warmers / cape, to keep you warm when you leave in the early morning. As the warmth increases and you strip off, roll up the clothing and stuff it into your pockets or into your seat bag / pack.
For long rides take essential tools with you. Spare tube, tyre levers and pump are necessities. An extra mini tool could provide peace of mind if you are heading off into remote areas. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail and all that…
Once you get home, start to replace the fluids you sweated out on your ride. Clean the sweat & spilled drinks off your bike; the salt in sweat can eat into the surface of components. Dribbles and spills from bottles can trickle their way down to the cable guide under the bottom bracket creating extra friction for your gear cables.
Longer summer rides are the rides which can motivate us through the rest of the year. Thinking back to the warm summer sun and long steady rides, will keep your faith and keep you pressing-on through winter, long after the tan lines have faded…
So make the most of the summer now! Before you know it, the nights will start drawing in and winter will be back…
Long summer rides are great, having suitable clothing will really enhance your ride. Check out our top kit for summer miles & smiles…
Short Sleeve Jerseys